Relaxing, and getting things done, is soooo good!

Yes, it’s official – I’m retired  so don’t ask me to do a darned thing!

Actually not quite true yet as I still have a very small amount of client work outstanding – but it’s all work that has no deadline so I can actually do it when I feel like that sort of work rather than feeling obligated. How happy am I! I promise this is the last time I gloat ‘coz  I’m retired . Honest.

Anyway, my last post was a frantic dash to get the Jungle January garments posted before Ann slammed the gate closed so I didn’t tell what else I had been doing so I will start here..

In with my lovely knitting ‘Stitching Santa’ parcel from Jo  was a skein of sock yarn in lovely greens. Clearly since it was my gift I had to knit this for myself. Since I had no other knitting on the needles I decided to start January with this. The yarn was a lovely Superwash wool/nylon sock yarn by Knitglobal which knitted up beautifully into very comfy socks. Thankfully they are also very warm because it has been positively bleak here in the UK. Grey and wet. Yuck! There are another couple of balls of Drops sock yarn so I can start another pair whenever I want. Bliss!

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..and back

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Butterick 6388 front…

I started sewing with the Butterick 6388 pattern and a cheerful red polka dot jersey because …well, it’s miserable in January! Red always cheers me up. However, I really have to say I prefer this as a top (as it was for JJ in the last post). It’s a great pattern – and I certainly see more of these in the (possibly near) future – but I like the top better. The pockets in the diagonal seams are great but inclined to open up a bit when you are wearing the dress. I may go back and sew these closed. The fabric is far from high quality – probably plain polyester jersey from the Rag Market but I have no recollection as it had been in stash for ages. It does have as much stretch as the pattern claims to need but I would much prefer it to be stretchier as it clings a bit. It may behave better once it has been washed but at the moment it is giving electric shocks as there is so much static!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy next choice was another Rag Market fabric – this was an astonishingly good buy at a mere 50p per yard (or whatever length they were selling in that day) and is a very heavy jersey. I should probably have thought more carefully about that weight when I decided to repeat the wonderful Savage Coco Presto top in it. The front (and as it’s cold I did the back too) is doubled so there is a lot of cloth here. I  really should have put a petticoat under that dress before taking photographs – I don’t usually have a sway back problem so I assume the cloth is just stuck to my tights. I really loved this made up as a top and have worn the ones I made last year Yikes!!! it was 2015 a massive amount. They have every right to be looking a bit shabby now. I’m not sure if I will keep this as a dress or shorten it to a t-shirt length. I’m really not good at wearing dresses but I’m trying so hard. Perhaps you could tell me what you think?

In addition to sewing these for me I have been destroying a whole load of good cotton. I really can’t believe how long it is taking to cut the pieces for The Managements quilt! Sheesh! All that time and I’m going to be spending even more sewing it all back together. Remind me whats great about quilting can you?! I can assure you that progress on this project is going to be outstandingly slow. No, even slower than that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHaving finished the socks I was knitting I have broken out of my sock addiction to start knitting a pattern by Purl Soho I saw a while back and just loved. At the time there didn’t seem to be many made up (and when I worked out the cost of the yarn recommended I could see why!). The Botanical Yoke pullover is shown made up in Cashmere/Merino which would quite clearly be heavenly to wear. As I hadn’t used a Purl Soho pattern (and as I said there was no information on Ravelry about the pattern at the time) I decided to make it up in a more summer appropriate, and purse friendly, Drops Cotton Light. Again I chose a bright red (what can I say, red just feels good in January) and have been enjoying knitting this whilst watching the telly box. I have the body knitted up to the armholes, and one sleeve started, so it shouldn’t be too long before I hit the exciting part. By knitting in this yarn first it will give me the opportunity to test the pattern, check the size (my guage is pretty much perfect), and decide if I love it enough to invest in the cashmere/merino to make a sweater to treasure. So far it’s looking good.

Already we are almost half way through February so there won’t be massive amounts sewn for me now (although there are patterns lined up ready to use). I do have a shirt cut out for The Management, and I really do want to start my coat before summer so I really should crack on. But, and it’s a big but, I am only sewing when I feel like it at the moment – and that feels really good. I have been reading, cooking, exercising, and clearing some of those jobs you always intend to go but tend to get left.

I’m enjoying life. Hope you are too.


Christmas planning and knitting for me!

Oh dear, here we are in December again. Every year I pledge to be better organised than last year and every year I regret not being. Maybe next year when I have retired?

Anyway, the weather has turned significantly colder and that always triggers my knitting bug. I really enjoy sitting in the evening on a cold, dark, stormy (sorry, getting carried away) night with a glass of something tasty and a nice knitting project. But it really gets in the way of the sewing plans!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell, I got well and truly carried away when I was making an order for a couple of balls of yarn to finish off a project I was copying from the lovely Sue at Fadanista (click the link to see her lovely wrap) and the bag in the photo was the result. I do have plans for all of the yarn in there – but having used the extra yarn I needed to make the wrap that looked so good on Sue neither myself or The Management liked the result, neither thought I would make use of it so I am back to the drawing board with that particular yarn. This was in fact the second time I had knitted the wrap as I wasn’t convinced I had it right the first time and had to check with Sue. Rather than knitting again in rib I continued in moss stitch which looked lovely and tweedy – but the result wasn’t what I wanted. I pulled that one out before I remembered I should have taken photos – sorry!

Rather than get bogged down in that one again I have started on a vest top from Ravelry.

3b-2_medium

I had been looking for a pattern in 4 ply which would make a very fine, but warm, layer to wear with a shirt in a cotton chambray(ish) stuff bought from Barry’s on one of the Birmingham trips. I think I may have been subliminally drawn to this as it was in the colour I had in mind. Yes, I have very imaginatively bought the same colour as the picture (you can just about see it in the bag). It has been started now and is coming along quite nicely. The need for a project I could enjoy whilst watching the TV is fulfilled on the back (plain) but I am going to have to concentrate on those front cables 😉 .

Progress has been pretty good so far but I have also been making a couple of little side projects for Christmas. I have joined in with Sewchets Stitching Santa this year (my first time of joining in although I have lurked on the sidelines before) so I am slightly involved in those too.

Have I done any sewing for me since Nell I hear you ask. Well, I did a little job to make a handbag more comfortable. Does that count?

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Too low for comfort

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Shorten strap to the pin

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Much better!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apart from fabric I used for client work my stash has remained absolutely static. I can’t wait to get stuck into that lovely wool for my coat – I’m hopeful that I will start this weekend as the client work is pretty much under control (and I am not going to answer the phone. Only kidding).

I hope all of your Christmas plans are actually running ‘to plan’, and that any sewing you want for yourself is going well.

Back soon with progress – I hope 🙂

 


The Eternal Socks and more.

No. not how long I expect them to last – the time it has taken me to knit these blessed socks.

I used my basic pattern, which is the Lacery sock pattern which was free fom Ravelry, but used the cabled pattern all over the sock from the Little Minx socks, also free from Ravelry. The last time I used the Little Minx pattern I realised it didn’t have increases on the instep but didn’t think it would matter. After using the socks for a while I decided that whilst I liked the cabling they were a bit tight over the foot to put on. Fine once they are on there but a bit of a struggle initially!

Damn that dropped stitch!

Damn that dropped stitch!

I was finished one sock for a good while before I got on with the second as this has been my ‘portable project’ for a while. Socks are great for a project that can move with you and doesn’t take up too much space. A night of insomnia got me back on track and once cast on they were on their way. It wasn’t until I had finished the second sock it still took a while) and was darning in the two loose threads (I love toe-up socks for this detail – only two threads to darn in on one colour socks) I spotted this! Damn! A dropped stitch from while I was working the heel. Fortunately it hadn’t run away when I turned the sock through so I was able to effect a repair whilst muttering and cursing.

Instep detail

Instep detail

I am now happy to report that I have another pair of hand knitted socks for myself, and very comfy they are too. They were knitted in Yarn Gardens sock yarn which had a bit of something called ‘stelina sparkle’ included which makes them a bit twinkly. I know from the last Yarn Garden yarn I knitted that these will have to be washed on their own for a good few times as the dye seems to weep for a number of washes but doesn’t seem to fade – no, I don’t know how either.

Finished!

Finished!

Something I hadn’t quite appreciated until I went to put the end of the yarn into the ‘leftovers bag’ was quite how much leftover sock yarn I have generated. I think I may have to knit a ‘two at once’ project and just make mad stripes to use some of this up.

Leftover sock yarn

Leftover sock yarn

 

So, any sewing Kim? Not as such. Lots of planning (I seem to spend more time planning my sewing than ever I do making things for me 😦 ), client work being kept steady – or even diminishing which is nice, and piles of PDF patterns printed out ready to get on with.

I stuck the Style Arc Toni pattern together a little while ago and decided that rather than spending the time tracing it from that I would just cut the pieces. Why didn’t I do that before? It is now sitting with the fabric I plan to make it in waiting for its turn. It was head of the list until I saw – Style Arc Nell.

Fashionable cape with bound edges and inseam pockets

This was love at first sight. I had flirted with the idea of a cape for quite some time but never taken the plunge. This just seemed to be exactly what I needed – and I knew exactly which fabric to make it in. A lovely raspberry fabric that had been lurking for some time. Oh, but would I end up looking a bit ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ (even though there is no hood other than me). Re think. A lovely textured grey wool sprung to mind – even longer in the stash than the raspberry. Perfect. Except there is only 1.5m and the pattern says 2. Pants. I really liked the idea of this in the grey so I spent this afternoon sticking the pattern together before cutting it out and placing (breath held the whole time) on the ‘too small’ piece of grey fabric. It fits. Just. Two pieces are a fraction off grain which I  would usually not tolerate but this time needs must.

The piece turned out to be only 145cm long and I think that had it been the full 1.5m I could possibly have managed to cut this on grain – sadly I will have to find something else to make the pockets from (or go without , but I can’t see that happening!) as the pocket pieces wont fit. Hopefully I will get this cut out and overlocked over the weekend. The fabric is so loosely woven that if I don’t protect the edges I am going to have fraying beyond the not very generous seam allowances.

Back with progress soon.I hope.


Six Point Tee

It has been a little while since I knitted this but I found it whilst sorting my wardrobe and remembered that not only had I not blogged it but I had extra yarn which I meant to sell.

Six Point Tee by Cathy Carrow - Front

Six Point Tee by Cathy Carrow – Front

Six Point Tee by Cathy Carrow - Back

Six Point Tee by Cathy Carrow – Back

This pattern was bought from Ravelry, and whilst most of the versions shown were made in the recommended Rowan All Seasons Chunky there were others that looked very good in other yarns. I knitted this in the 3rd size, to give a bust size of 41.5″ to give a very little positive ease.  The yarn was easy to knit with, but being very chunky was a bit challenging to join where needed.

My top took about 5.5 balls (so 6 needed was correct) and I’m not entirely certain what I had intended to make with this yarn originally but I have 4.5 balls left. This quantity is sufficient to make this top in the smallest size (Bust 33 1/4) which needs 4 balls, or possibly the next size (Bust 37 1/4″)  which claims to need 5.

Six Point Tee by Cathy Carrow

Six Point Tee by Cathy Carrow – without t-shirt under

I will knit this top again as it is really comfortable, and as you can see from the photographs works well with and without a t-shirt underneath. I think it would look good in a slubby cotton to give a softer, less firm, garment. I could certainly reduce the hip increases for me when I make this again – I really have pathetic hips!

This yarn is selling on this site at £7.20 a ball on this site ( I think I paid about that when I bought it but can’t find the receipt). If anyone would be interested in buying this from me I would be happy to accept £15 (about 50% cost) + whatever it costs to post.

Let me know if you are interested.

Rowan Yarn

Leftover Rowan All Seasons Chunky yarn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Planning…

Well doesn’t time fly? Since I last posted you could be forgiven for thinking I hadn’t done anything. Since I don’t post any clients work I can’t show you any proof – but I promise I have been very busy. In addition to that The Management scheduled a trip to Northumberland to visit an old friend who had moved back there….. and deliver our family Christmas presents! At the time I was informed of this I had about a week to buy said gifts. It would be fair to say I was not too impressed, but now that it is done I can relax a bit and finish my other preparations.

During my time under cover I have still been stalking the blogs I know and love, and reconnected with one I used to read a while ago and seemed to have vanished from my WordPress reader (anyone else have those sort of problems? – and if I haven’t commented on your blog in a while it may be that you have vanished off the list and I haven’t noticed yet for which I can only apologise).

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The blog I have found again is the lovely Evie at Pendle stitches who not only sews but knits some wonderful things for her family. In the post you get to if you click on the link you will find the fabulous Lemongrass sweater by Joji Locatelli.

Yarn for jumper and fabric for trousers

Yarn for jumper and fabric for trousers

I thought that it was a fabulous sweater with some slightly different detailing (got to love that side feature!) and immediately hot footed it to Ravelry for the pattern. I was fortunate to receive an e-mail from the Wool Warehouse which gave me the incentive to get right on it and buy the yarn ready to start. I chose Drops Nepal in a lovely Pumpkin shade which I consider to be just right for autumn/winter. I really see too many dull shades from clients so like to introduce a little brightness myself where possible – and I love an orange colour in almost any circumstance.

The ideal partner for such a gorgeous coloured yarn is a pair of brown trousers – and my favourite pair are starting to look a bit shabby. OK, a lot shabby.

Priced in pesetas!

Priced in pesetas!

I have been dredging deep in my stash of late and found this lovely piece. A perfect fabric (though truly who knows what the composition is) and just the right quantity. I vaguely recalled buying this on a Spanish holiday but was both amazed and slightly appalled to discover it still had a price sticker on IN PESETAS! Oh, the shame. Now Spain adopted the Euro in January 1999 so I really think this lovely fabric has marinaded quite long enough and is to be made into my Jeanius jeans pattern with a couple of tweaks. There is a bit of lycra in the fabric so it will be perfect for trousers with a kind of jeans styling, but a bit smarter.

I have got rid of two large orders last weekend so I have a little more time to do something for myself – once I clear the family alterations! I have a bag from my mum, and a couple of things for my DD that she has been very patiently waiting for. I’m on it now. Honest.

Hopefully it wont be too long before I can make progress on my two garments.

Swimming progress

As you see from the ticker I am now at mile 19 – actually 19.2 – so I only have 2.8 miles left in the challenge. It seems to have lasted for ages but the end is in sight. Thanks for all your good wishes – and a special thank you to those who have sponsored me for Aspire. I have exceeded the amount I hoped to raise so I can only thank you for your generosity.

 


Sometimes life needs to change.

I am not going to make any apology (this time) for having taken so long to post anything new – but I will tell you what has happened here Chez Material Lady.

Immediately after my last post I worked like a crazy lady (no sniggering in the back!) to clear the decks of client work before going on holiday with The Management. We had a fabulous time in the amazingly beautiful medieval walled city of Carcassonne. If you ever get an offer  of a holiday in this part of France take it – Carcassonne looks like medieval Disney. And is the home of cassoulet.

Beautiful Carcassonne

Beautiful Carcassonne

We had a fabulous time…..until I got food poisoning on a day out to Avignon. Big style. After almost a week on fluids and very little solid food I rather foolishly went on a trip to Gozo with some diving friends – I know I probably shouldn’t have done but this had been arranged for ever. The logic was that if I wasn’t well enough to dive then resting in the sunshine would be good for me. I confess that despite still eating very little I did go diving – and wonderful it was too – and very much enjoyed the rest in the sunshine. Lots of rest and back home to start work again.

The lovely bay in Xlendi, Gozo

The lovely bay in Xlendi, Gozo

Or not. My batteries were on empty, and for the first week back almost every time I sat down I went to sleep. Thankfully I had left little client work that needed urgent attention so I was able to just rest, but it did make me consider what I would have done if there had been lots as it has taken weeks to start feeling anywhere near normal again.

I hate to let anyone down, and I always try to ensure that work is completed well within a deadline just in case there should be a problem (I am glad to say that I can’t remember the last time I needed it). I have also been fed up with not having time for my own sewing – it is clear from my lack of progress in the GAM challenge that I am not attaching enough importance to what I would like to make for me. So…I have removed my listing from the Yell.com site and intend to gradually reduce the amount of work I do for other people. I have loved the 20+ years of professional sewing (so far) and intend to continue – but in a reduced capacity. Hopefully that will give me time to play a bit more.

Larry front

Larry front

Larry back

Larry back

During all the time sitting around doing nothing (pffft!) I have at least finished knitting Larry.This is a pattern that is available free of charge on Ravelry which I saw on ‘Pendle Stitches‘ and I fell in love with it. I know it was shown on Ravelry as a mans garment but I thought I would enjoy wearing it. I knitted it in Rowan Pure wool Aran which is so smooth it feels almost like cotton, but with the warmth of wool. As Evie said it was a wonderfully easy knit (despite the fact that she had some difficulties) and is a great pattern for clattering through whilst watching the telly, or listening to audio books (my new addiction – Overdrive app to access the libraries supply on my new Kindle. Brilliant!).I used the sewn cast/bind  off again around the neck and cuffs (the sleeve stitches are picked up at the armhole edge) and love the finish. I know I don’t look as good as Evies lovely hubby in my Larry but I love it and know I will wear it loads now that it is getting cold here in Bewdley.

I am still working on the pattern for Kenneth D Kings ‘Jeanius’ course on Craftsy but I am about to make a muslin to test the pattern. This has taken so long that I need to make good use of this pattern once it is right.

Don’t work too hard out there!


In which I show my ‘Backbone’

Well time has been running away again and you could be forgiven for thinking I am just settled in the garden with a drink enjoying the sunshine. I wish.

I have been sewing like a maniac to clear client work recently, and every time I clear some space more work arrives. Still, never complain when business is good  – but it makes doing any sewing for myself unappealing so in any ‘relaxation time’ (almost always late evening whilst watching mindless TV) I have managed to finish my ‘Backbone’ sweater.

Collar and back detail

Collar and back detail

Backbone

Backbone finished!

Despite this pattern showing in my Ravelry search for what could be made with the quality and quantity of yarn I had I was a little concerned that the Rowan felted tweed DK yarn was going to be a bit fine for the project. Now it is finished I am very happy with the result which is going to be much more wearable than the original cardigan I knitted in this yarn.

As the garment is knitted from the top down I didn’t really want to have the ‘chain stitch’ finish you get from my usual knitted cast off so I used this sewn bind off. By finishing the edges this way it gives a much more ‘professional’ finish – and will confuse my mother when she trys to see how this was made! The other benefit of knitting the whole garment this way was that once the knitting was done there was very little by way of sewing together – just a little seam under each arm, and darning the yarn joins. Brilliant.

Backbone

Backbone … back

If I am being honest life hasn’t been all work – The Management and I had a couple of days in London. We met up with Jess (the Darling Daughter) for a  day at Kew Gardens and Palace. This wasn’t anything like I expected – I thought it may be a bit regimented and stuffy but it was brilliant! We had a fantastic day there, which was helped by the magnificent weather we are having in the UK at present, and I discovered even Royal Parks get yarn bombed!

Yarn bombed tree at Kew

Yarn bombed tree at Kew

Big smocked tree - and little Jess

Big smocked tree – and little Jess

Does that look smocked to you too?

Does that look smocked to you too?

 

 

Whilst walking around I also spotted this tree. It was pretty massive so Jess (who is 5 foot 1″ tall) stood in the picture to give an idea of scale. Doesn’t the bark look like it has been smocked? I had to share that with you all.

 

 

On a total other subject, I think I have to adapt my ‘Garment a Month’ challenge to ’12 Garments in a Year’ since I have failed to sew anything for myself in June or July – and if I am honest August isn’t looking too promising! Still, I have high hopes of managing 12 garments in 12 months – even if they aren’t evenly spread.

 

I hope you are all managing to be more personally productive out there in blogland!